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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)
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Long Way to a Small Angry Planet > LWSAP: The Opposite of Epic

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message 1: by E.J. Xavier (new) - added it

E.J. Xavier (EJXavier) | 163 comments This book surprised me, as I feel like I rarely see science fiction written in this "slice of life" style. In fact at the moment I can't think of any, though that might just be my bad memory.

Possibly the rareness of this writing structure in SF might be attributed to the fact that Science Fiction generally tries to imagine broad sweeping changes in our future which naturally lends itself to stories about broad sweeping events. There's a natural tendency toward dystopias and epic battles for survival where entire planets or even the universe hangs in the balance.

This book is more personal. Thematically it still touches on big questions about life, such as "are we defined by our parents? Or our genetics?" "What does it mean to love? How important is the physical attraction to love?"

But here the fate of all humanity doesn't hang in the balance. "Just" the personal lives of individuals we happen to care about. Much like life, but with spaceships.

The structure reminds me of a fair number of classic novels. In fact I think a large amount of "literary fiction" is written with this style. But not usually SF. That's a shame, because I think Becky Chambers has very neatly shown how satisfying the combination can be.


Albert Dunberg | 23 comments E.J. Xavier wrote: "This book surprised me, as I feel like I rarely see science fiction written in this "slice of life" style."

If you like that style then I can recommend that you try reading some SF short stories and novellas. In the shorter formats the author cannot spend hundreds of pages on world building and it's quite common that you experience the world through one or more viewpoint characters going about their daily business. The story is often carried by their experiences and interactions between people while the big SF ideas are merely backdrops.

I also feel that this style is more common in classic SF even though there are modern examples. I think Good Morning, Midnight qualifies as one. I like this style myself and often look for classic, literary SF.


Trike | 4667 comments A book that is similarly non-epic is A Calculated Life. It's a look at an ordinary life in a science fictional future that seems terrifyingly close to becoming real. Coincidentally, I read it around the same time as TLWTASAP. Maybe something was in the air.

Here's my non-spoiler review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Lara | 24 comments I agree that this book is more about the characters than external events. It is a more "quiet" story in that way. As for other authors, I also recommend Nathan Lowell, and highly recommend starting with the first book in his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series: Quarter Share. It is also about the characters, and in a sense only happens to take place in space.


message 5: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited May 06, 2017 03:07PM) (new)

Tassie Dave | 2237 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "I also recommend Nathan Lowell, and highly recommend starting with the first book in his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series: Quarter Share. It is also about the characters, and in a sense only happens to take place in space."

I enjoyed it, but it was a bit twee ;-) I managed to "read" the series when Nathan was giving it away free as a podcast audiobook.

The main character is a bit too perfect at everything. Even sex.
He comes up with ideas no-one has "ever" thought about before. Like buy where products are cheap and plentiful and sell where they are scarce and fetch a higher price. The rest of the crew act as if that is a revolutionary concept, instead of the basis of trade throughout human civilisation. ;-) lol

and the author didn't seem to understand the metric system.


Brendan (mistershine) | 904 comments It's a cozy space opera.


Lara | 24 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "Lara wrote: "I also recommend Nathan Lowell, and highly recommend starting with the first book in his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series: Quarter Share. It is also about the characters, and in ..."

True, but it is also a comforting and entertaining read. At least he isn't too perfect--he doesn't manage to captain the ship on his first voyage, for instance. I've read some books that have ridiculously amazing protagonists.


message 8: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2237 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "Tassie Dave wrote: "Lara wrote: "I also recommend Nathan Lowell, and highly recommend starting with the first book in his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series: Quarter Share. It is also about the..."

They are fun and I did enjoy the 5 Books in the series that I read.
Book 5 "Captain's Share" was my favourite. Ishmael is a bit less perfect and there is genuine conflict and danger.

BTW all 6 books in the series are still available as free Podcasts on iTunes.


Phil | 979 comments I'm just over halfway in LWSAP and I'm loving it so far. It reminds me of some of the old Heinleins. The Rolling Stones in particular comes to mind. (view spoiler)
I often complain about books with too many POV characters but it doesn't bother me here because they're all so likeable that I don't mind spending time with any of them.


message 10: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan | 5 comments Phil wrote: "I often complain about books with too many POV characters but it doesn't bother me here because they're all so likeable that I don't mind spending time with any of them."

This is an interesting point. There are a lot of POV characters in this book, but I haven't had any of the aggravation I sometimes feel when the POV shifts away from a character/plotline just as I'm getting invested.

I think this is partly because the author has written such likeable characters, but also because they POVs aren't jumping to characters in a completely unrelated situation.

Instead, this rapid POV shifting lends itself to the shared experience of shipmates, and helps underscore just how closely intertwined they really are. It's like the non-epic structure and the storytelling weave together, making both stronger in the process.

TLDR: Becky Chambers can write like a mo-fo.


Brendan (mistershine) | 904 comments I found differently. The large number of characters that were all likable in a blandly quirky way meant there wasn't enough time spent on any of them for me to get emotionally invested in their character arcs. I've heard that the sequel focuses on a smaller cast, so maybe Chambers realized it was an issue.


message 12: by Rick (new) - added it

Rick | 2116 comments I don't think this was meant to create a deep emotional connection with any of the characters. It's an ensemble story.

However, the next story in the series is a close focus story on 2 characters and, I think, does more of what you are looking for.


message 13: by Dara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2142 comments Brendan wrote: "I found differently. The large number of characters that were all likable in a blandly quirky way meant there wasn't enough time spent on any of them for me to get emotionally invested in their cha..."

I felt the same about this book. I didn't really connect with the characters all that much and they were mostly forgettable. The only character I really remember anything about is Jenks.


Trike | 4667 comments But, but... Kizzy! Lovelace! Dr. Chef!


message 15: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2533 comments Kizzy was way overdone, but eh. It worked in the context of the story. Her scenes did feel a bit like outttakes from Rocky Horror.


Trike | 4667 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "Kizzy was way overdone, but eh. It worked in the context of the story. Her scenes did feel a bit like outttakes from Rocky Horror."

Amusingly enough, she's based on a real person Chambers knew (an ex-girlfriend, perhaps?) and she says the character is exactly the same as the real person.


message 17: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2533 comments Hah, that's great. As I was reading it I was thinking, "this person is so over the top, it has to be real. You can't make this kind of stuff up."


Trike | 4667 comments It's like Mark Twain said, "Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense."


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